Coming out of the shadows of COVID-19, the Indian aviation industry has rapidly recovered from the pandemic-induced slowdown. As per rating agency ICRA, domestic air passenger traffic rose 5% sequentially in August 2022 to nearly 10.2 million passengers; international air passenger traffic for Indian airlines also saw an increase of 32% from pre-COVID levels in the same month. These are promising signs and are reflective of a growing economy. The launch of new airlines and revitalizing existing ones like Air India is another sign of the positive road ahead for the country.
Additionally, we are already experiencing a surge with the advent of the festive and holiday season. All these factors combined have led to a rise in traffic at the airport, thus mandating a security system that is equipped to deal with this outpouring of passengers and to ensure that the operations are smooth, safe, and secure.
Security challenges ahead for airports
Given the sheer scale, cost of infrastructure and stakeholders involved, airports present a maze of unique security challenges. Furthermore, restricted, and sensitive areas within and around the airport require an extra push to make them secure and safe. While the last decade has witnessed a significant shift in airport operations toward automation and digitization, there is still a long way to go until it is possible to combine all the accessible data into a single big data reservoir and process it in real-time to improve everyday operations. This understanding and pooling of data when amalgamated with rapid response to prevailing security crises will play a crucial role in keeping passengers, employees, and infrastructure safe. Further, because of substantial security threats, constraints have become far more onerous. To mitigate that, adopting more advanced technology and using the appropriate detection technologies and equipment for screening passengers, baggage, and cargo has become an essential task.
Using innovative solutions to address the gaps in providing a comfortable experience for passengers
The contemporary challenges and landscape provide an opportunity to access, evaluate and implement solutions that are sustainable and address the growing needs of the aviation industry.
Thus, it has become more crucial than ever to implement innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and biometrics to provide the airport ecosystem with innovative methods to boost operational effectiveness, expand capacity, and upgrade infrastructure. Technologies like DigiYatra also help in reducing boarding time and help better alignment with health restrictions by providing more security and managing passenger flow efficiently.
A key area of attention for the industry is the use of automation to reduce queues and touchpoints at airports and the integration of the monitoring infrastructure. Utilizing innovative approaches and decision support systems that aid in improving and managing passenger flows from the point at which a traveler leaves home to her arrival at the departure/arrival gate assumes paramount importance.
In a world that is fast-paced and unpredictable, the adoption of advanced technologies and collaboration among government, industry bodies and other stakeholders continue to be crucial in providing passengers with better, safer, and more secure airport experiences. It will be crucial to use technologies to gain and sustain the confidence of air travelers.
Ashish Saraf is the Vice President and Country Director, India at Thales.